How to Build a Fireside Bookcase

Built-In Fireside Bookcase

Add to the value and elegance of your home with this built-in bookcase next to the fireplace. A pair of doors at the bottom provides out-of-view storage, and a cutout arch in the top rail adds visual interest. There's no fancy joinery, so this bookcase is the perfect beginner's project. If you have room, you'll want to build a bookcase for each side of the fireplace. The bookcase is 95-1/2 inches tall to fit in a room with an 8-foot ceiling. You may need to adapt the height for the room.

Before you assemble the case, make sure you will be able to move the case into its location and stand it up. If stairs, doors, or ceiling height will make it difficult to put the assembled case into position, assemble the case with the sides already in place. Attach the top (B) with pocket-hole screws or cleats if you cannot drive screws in from the top.

Materials and finishing
This bookcase is made of oak, which is readily available at home centers. You can use any other hardwood you like, such as cherry, walnut, or ash. If you want to stain the bookcase, maple or poplar are two choices that take stain evenly. The bookcase is finished with wipe-on polyurethane that's easy to apply and allows the beauty of the wood to show.


About 16 hours to construct, plus several hours to finish

Tape measure, hammer, nail set, combination square, framing square, bar clamps, power drill with 1/16-inch and 1/8-inch bits, tablesaw or circular saw with a straightedge guide, power mitersaw or hand miter box, pocket hole jig (optional), jigsaw finish sander

Measuring, sawing, drilling

Assemble tools and materials, prepare a large work area, prepare installation area

Exploded View
Materials Needed and Cutting Diagram
Continued on page 2:  Cutting the Case Parts


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